Samba composer Joao Roberto Kelly became a media star in the 1970s, hosting a musical variety show called "Rio De Samba," while continuing to write his own material. The television program hosted a wide variety of guests and was a focal point for the explosive pagode samba revival of the 'Seventies... In a Merv Griffin-like way, Kelly also recorded a number of albums, showcasing his piano playing and some surprisingly rootsy samba. There's a poppish tint to his work, but the roots remain true... Here's a quick look at his work.
Joao Roberto Kelly "Balanco Espetacular" (Mocambo, 1961)
Joao Roberto Kelly "Balanco Espetacular" (Som/Copacabana, 1962)
Joao Roberto Kelly "...E As Vocalistas" (Continental/Musicolor, 1962)
Joao Roberto Kelly "E Os Garotos Da Bossa" (Discos Rozemblit/Discos Familia, 196-?)
Joao Roberto Kelly & Luiz Reis "Samba Em Quatro Maos" (RCA, 1964) (LP)
A brisk, bouncy set of poppy samba duets with an informal, almost goofball vibe that suggests a long stint as a nightclub act. Both Kelly and Reis were pianists and composers; Reis seems to have written mostly with Haroldo Barbosa, while Kelly composed alone. Regardless, this is a fun, lively album, with a sprightly feel, totally independent of the artistic weightiness of the bossa nova and MPB scenes. Fun rhythm section, too, with a strong Cuban feel to the percussion. Definitely worth checking out.
Joao Roberto Kelly "Times Squares" (RCA-Victor, 1965)
Joao Roberto Kelly "My Fair Show" (Copacabana, 1965)
Joao Roberto Kelly "Samba Na Paroquia" (Musidisc, 1970) (LP)
Joao Roberto Kelly "Um Piano Sobe O Morro" (Tapecar, 1973) (LP)
A lively, perky set, showcasing Kelly's brisk, playful piano alongside a group called Os Pagodeiros Nota 10, which featured solid '70s-style samba percussion and a keening vocal chorus. It's surprisingly rootsy and very much of a piece with the pagode scene of the time, with dips into less animated pop-ballads material. Overall, a nice one!
Joao Roberto Kelly "Joao Roberto Kelly" (EMI-Odeon, 1974)
This is a very '70s-ish pop album, more disco-y AOR than samba-cancao. There's a lot of tinkly electric keyboard throughout, providing the main accompaniment to this low-key, mainstream pop album, along with some saccharine string arrangements. The standout track is a topical novelty song, "Hippie De Boutique," which has funny lyrics and a bouncy, goofball arrangement. Otherwise, this is a fairly negligible record, kinda cheesy and watered-down. It's okay, nothing super-special, though.
Joao Roberto Kelly/Various Artists "...Apresenta Rio Da Samba" (1977)
A souvenir album of the Rio Da Samba TV variety show, hosted by samba composer Joao Roberto Kelly... Judging from the cover art, the show featured a fair amount of booty-shaking; from the set list, it seems to have had a lot of talent on it as well. Guest performers include Luiz Ayrao, Paulinho da Viola, Clementina de Jesus, Joao Nogueira and others... An impressive lineup!
Joao Roberto Kelly "Joao Roberto Kelly" (Copacabana, 1980) (LP)
A nice, mellow, pop-samba set, very straightforward and pleasant. Although there are some modern production touches, mostly this is quite nice, and richly traditional. All but two of the songs are Kelly's own original compositions, and he croons them with a perfect, velvet ease, his modest, reedy voice wrapped around the lyrics, caressing each phrase lovingly before letting it go... Not the most dazzling or magical record of its kind, but essentially a nice, low-key album. I like it, although mostly just the first half of the record -- Side Two has a lot of slower songs, and these ballads do get kind of drippy.
Joao Roberto Kelly "Happy Hour" (CID, 1998)
A brisk, sleek, easy set covering standards such as "One Note Samba" and some North American stuff. Kelly's still got his facility with the ivories, but this is purty darn lounge-y. You gotta be in the mood for it, I guess, although there's nothing overtly icky about it -- no drippy string sections, synths or rampant overproduction, just Kelly's piano and a simple, spare backing band.
Joao Roberto Kelly & Carlos Bianchini "Existe Solucao Salmos E Proverbios Em Espirito Em Verdade"
A collaboration with pastor Carlos Bianchini, apparently with Kelly providing a musical setting for various sermons and adaptations of psalms and such... Anyone know when this was made or for what label?
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